Do lines like “ICE to ISIS, migrant crisis/ Gleeful cruelty at the top/ Endless shootings, venal or stupid/ Con men on the nuclear clock” ruin a dance party? Apparently not.
All photos by Joy Asico (firstname.lastname@example.org / www.asicophoto.com)
Local favorites Yeasayer arrived in town for two sold out shows last week at the 9:30 Club, trucking in enough laser beams and mirrors to ensure everyone will be seeing spots until around 2016. When the black curtain hiding the stage setup finally dropped on both nights, what ensued was a fuzzy, blinding mash-up of 80s-laced dance music and old school Baltimore charm, performed on a stage that married the shiniest visuals from Battlestar Galactica and Tron. The band had obviously planned for those in the audience who’d bought tickets to both shows, by switching up the set lists for each night, and the end results were two distinct but equally dazzling concerts.
While the majority of electronically-based bands incorporate exponentially increasing loops and pre-recorded samples into their live shows, Yeasayer gives a big nod to the basics of making great live music by peeling away several of the overly-manipulated layers from the recorded versions of their tracks. Then, using actual vocals, a guitarist, a kick-ass drummer, and a real-for-real bass guitar -- and when was the last time you saw a bass guitar at a dance concert -- the band delivered their material live in a surprisingly organic manner. Or as organic as you can get while your corneas are being singed by a light show visible from Jupiter. Rather than route the electronic portions of a track through keyboards, lead singers Chris Keating and Anand Wilder used giant computer boxes to fill out the songs. This allowed Keating to merely punch a button to summon a synth-line, and left him free to dance around the stage engaging the crowd, which was an effective to pull the crowd into the show and was insanely charming at the same time.
Yeasayer’s highly-anticipated third album, Fragrant World, arrives today at the tail end of the hottest season we’ve had around here in the last hundred years, and the album is unfortunately an uneven collection of highs and lows - the highs are really high, but the lows are also pretty damn low. If you’ve had a summer filled with intermittent memories of roller coasters, music festivals, and camping trips, woven over a LOT of days spent drifting around your pool eating Cheetos in a heat-induced stupor, then this album may be the soundtrack for your summer.
In which the gang welcomes Rusty (and a squirrel cape) into the fold, is further confused by Kevin’s wheelhouse, consider the true meaning of unicorns, and spend some quality time with the sweet, sexyfied sounds of Vangelis. PLUS!!! We discuss new music from old school power pop punks REDD KROSS, Canadian punk rockers WHITE LUNG, soulful crooner MICHAEL KIWANUKA and the highly anticipated latest release from YEASAYER!!!